Dust motes float silently through the stuffy, hundred-year-old air. Pews creak with every movement, even underneath the weight of my waifish, adolescent body. The organ rumbles bleakly to life alerting the congregation to stand. My lips produce noise, but I do not comprehend the meaning. “I detest my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven” was the last sentence I ever repeated in church. To this day, I have no idea what stopped me from reciting the next line. The Act of Contrition was branded onto my tongue at an early age yet I never took the time to grasp what it meant to me. Being born into Catholicism makes you Catholic, right? Baptized and confirmed, I would live, die, and go to heaven as a Catholic, right? Questioning my mother, the priest, or Christ our Lord were all considered sins, right? Tunnel vision was closing in on my line of sight. Thoughts swam in my mind as I stood staring blankly ahead at the crucifix. Frightened and hesitant, the voice in my head uttered something ever so quietly that would change my views forever. “I don’t believe.”
My comfort zone is rarely unoccupied and never left for long. Spontaneity, which causes excitement to bubble in the veins of most, makes me nauseous. In a world full of Ferris Buellers, I’m the Cameron Frye. A well meaning push is needed to get me to enjoy any sort of impromptu event. Occasionally, I’ll stumble onto the radar of someone with a love for experience and late nights. Almost compulsively, they’ll scoop me up and show me the world as they see it. “You’ve never been here before?” Somehow they’re always skeptical when my answer is no. The few weeks after we meet fade into a montage of backroads, constellations, and rooftops. It warms my heart to keep them as steadfast friends, but they’re usually gone before the sun comes up.
“Where are you off to now?” is my parent’s usual farewell when I’m back at home for a break. As I search for my keys, I’ll check the boxes of their list: Where, When, With Who, Love You. Two sets of haggard eyes watch the door shut behind me. Guilt builds up in back of my throat as I hop in my car and jet off to my destination.
Sometimes the guilt wins. I walk back inside my childhood home, sit down beside my mother, and spend some quality time with my parents. The three of us quietly watch a movie that none of us enjoy. When it’s over, my mother is snoring and my father has already crept off to bed. The silence is sickening as I walk down the narrow hall to my bedroom. My eyes scan the modest layout and come to rest on the focal point of the room: my bed.
I spent years of my life laying in that bed, obediently defeated. No one asked why I would spend hours, days, weeks, sleeping away my life. Confusion and melancholy filled my bones until they ached to be back in the safety of fleece and cotton. Not one hand reached out to dull the pain. Not one mouth spoke words of comfort. I was left to my own devices to escape. Where am I off to now? Anywhere but here.
Every day, hundreds of nameless faces pass by mine. Double takes are rare as we go about our day. Every day, I form little attachments to the faces I have begun to notice. The fair girl with glowing red hair sits diagonally to me in biology. Her fiery mane is always pulled up tightly into a pony tail, even though it must fall gorgeously onto her shoulders. The Environmental Science major with the Roman nose tends to be late to 10 a.m. algebra, but usually shows up early to our 9 a.m. science lab. He’ll answer question after question correctly, but won’t write a single word down. Flippantly doodling, on the other hand, is his forte.
These faces don’t have names in my mind, but their constant presence in the background of my life has earned them identifiers. Their life has become important to me. To feel alone in a growing world already full of seven billion people is egotistical at best. You are not alone and if you ever feel that way, remember this. Every movie has extras and every portrait has a landscape.
The nursery rhyme “Little girls are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice” has never applied to me. As a child, I constantly snubbed compliments, shied away from strangers’ cooing faces, and enjoyed my own company best. My well-rehearsed mother would chuckle, look into the camera, and recite her favorite catchphrase; “She takes after her father”.
While most little girls were turning into princesses, I was slowly morphing into a grumpy, old man. My slouchy, lean figure is a carbon copy of my father’s during his teenage years. His pastel English coloring is displayed proudly across the sharp features he lent me. Our perpetually sour mugs are broken for one thing and one thing only: a good joke. Dad blessed me with the gift of quick wit and an elusive smile. When we’re together, you’ll hear us before you see us. Booming laughter and a hearty slap on the knee follow the delivery of every punchline. Once the joke is successfully ran into the ground, the comfortable silence we enjoy dearly returns.
I spent days writing this piece. Not because I wanted to accurately describe a beautiful relationship, but because I wanted to reveal the bitter truth behind a lovely exterior. My dad and I aren’t close. Due to our equally stubborn and lazy natures, we probably will never grow any closer. We’ll skirt the truth with humor and fall back into the safety of silence, indefinitely.
Hot tears streamed down my pouty, cherub face as I tried to decipher a picture book in my first grade classroom. The story of the spotted dog is still a mystery to this day, although its face materializes clearly in my memory bank. I remember having a hard time learning to read as a child. My mother, most likely noticing this, took me to the library often and encouraged me wholeheartedly to enjoy any book I desired. She instilled in me a love and appreciation for the written word. The child that secretly tore books apart in frustration presently reads constantly as a young adult.
Reading is my hobby, but writing will always be my passion. Diaries with loose spines and dog eared pages are hidden here and there all over my room. A diary exists from every chapter of my life. The good, the bad, and the depressingly ugly are categorized into countless daily records; I’ve logged my entire evolution onto lined paper.
In short, this is my answer to all those that ask “Why did you start a blog?” It isn’t for recognition or attention. It isn’t for comments or likes. This is my diary. It’s 2016 and about damn time to go paperless.